If your efforts to get fit keep are limited to a bit of bicep-action as you lift and lower your drink in the pub, a personal trainer might be the solution.
Personal Training is one of the fastest growing sectors in the health and fitness industry today, and it's growing. The perception that a personal trainer is only for the well-off is beginning to fade, but this isn't helped by the way they are often presented in the media. How often do you pick up a celebrity gossip magazine only to be confronted by a clutch of well-know TV and film stars sweating their way around their local park with their trainer?
So why have a personal trainer?
People train for a variety of reasons, it could be to lose weight, change body shape, prepare for a wedding or holiday, rehab from illness or injury, run a marathon, pre- or post-pregnancy or via a doctor (GP) referral, the list is pretty extensive. Hiring a personal trainer means clients get regular, dedicated time with their trainer, and are completely focussed on their own personal health and fitness objectives. Hourly rates for a trainer vary, but on average expect to pay anything between £25 and £45, more in London and sometimes less in remote areas.
Motivation is a big issue with exercise and over 95% of gym memberships eventually lapse because of the lack of this vital element - not great value for money. Having a personal trainer means you can't shirk out of your exercise session in favour of the sofa. You know they'll be knocking at your door or be in the park at a certain time to get you moving, and you won't be able to turn them away. Still, you'll need to put the effort in yourself - a personal trainer isn't a magic formula and you won't turn into Madonna or Brad Pitt overnight, so keep your expectations realistic.
How do I find a good personal trainer
The industry is undergoing a lot of change at the moment, taking serious steps to improve regulation and professionalism among those working in it. Organisations like the Register of Exercise Professionals are there to help safeguard the health and interests of people who are using the services of exercise and fitness instructors, teachers and trainers.
The National Register of Personal Trainers (NRPT) puts people in touch with qualified, insured and experienced personal trainers online. All NRPT members are qualified to level 3, which is currently the highest level in the fitness industry (Advanced Instructor), and all hold public liability insurance in order to protect their clients. The NRPT provides an internet-based tool to locate trainers in your area and you'll find a profile of each trainer, showing their hourly rates, equipment and qualifications.
You'll also find personal trainers attached to gyms. If you're a member of a gym, this might be a cheaper and quicker option, but all the same rules about being happy with your trainer (see below) should still apply.
How can I tell if they're any good?
A personal trainer should go through an initial comprehensive consultation with you, which is typically free of charge. During this consultation they'll assess your fitness levels through non-invasive tests, such as blood pressure and lung capacity, as well as through exercise itself. Together with you, they'll put together a training plan that will not only suit your personal schedule, but your fitness requirements and overall objectives. It may also include some nutritional advice and you may be asked to keep a food diary.
It's important to get on with your personal trainer and form a professional friendship and the consultation is your chance to see if you think you will click. If there is anything you're not sure about, tell them you need time to think about it, and make sure you get the information you need regarding issues such as costs, cancellation policy and equipment. Finally, if it doesn't work out, accept that a personal trainer isn't for you and look for a different way to get fit. Everyone is motivated in different ways and it could be that a group sport, yoga class or even cycling to work will work wonders for you.
Written by Sam Groves
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